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Red Water

Category: Diseases and their Remedies

This disease derives its name from the color of the urine voided in it.
It is one of the most common complaints of horned cattle, and one of the
most troublesome to manage.

Symptoms.--Respiration hurried; rumination ceases; a high degree of
fever presented; the animal moans, arches the back, and strains in
passing the urine, which is tinged with blood, or presents the
appearance of pure blood. Prof. Gamgee, of the Edinburgh Veterinary
College, says: "The cause is almost invariably feeding on turnips that
have grown on damp, ill-drained land; and very often a change of diet
stops the spread of this disease in the byre. Other succulent food,
grown under similar circumstances, may produce the same symptoms,
tending to disturb the digestive organs and the blood-forming process.

"In the course of my investigations as to the cause of various
cattle-diseases, and of red water in particular. I have found that it
is unknown on well-drained farms and in dairies where turnips are used
only in a moderate degree. The lands of poor people furnish the roots
most likely to induce this disorder; and I can confirm the statement of
the late Mr. Cumming, of Elton, who, in his very interesting essay upon
this subject, says, particularly in reference to Aberdeenshire, that it
is 'a disease essentially attacking the poor man's cow; and to be seen
and studied, requires a practice extending into the less favorably
situated parts of the country. On large farms, where good stock is well
kept, and in town dairies, where artificial food is used to supplement
the supply of turnips, it is seldom now seen.'

"Symptoms.--General derangement attracts the dairyman's attention,
and, upon observing the urine which the animal has voided, it is seen to
be of a red, or of a reddish brown, or claret color; sometimes
transparent, at others clear. The color increases in depth; other
secretions are checked; the animal becomes hide-bound, and the milk goes
off. Appetite and rumination are suspended; the pulse becomes extremely
feeble and frequent, though--as in all debilitating, or anaemic,
disorders--the heart's action is loud and strong, with a decided venous
pulse, or apparent regurgitation, in the large veins of the neck.

"In some cases, if even a small quantity of blood be withdrawn, the
animal drops in a fainting state. In red water, the visible mucous
membranes are blanched, and the extremities cold, indicating the languid
state of the blood's circulation and the poverty of the blood itself.
Constipation is one of the most obstinate complications; and many
veterinary surgeons--aware that, if the bowels can be acted on, the
animal is cured--have employed purgatives in quantities far too large,
inducing at times even death. Occasionally, diarrhoea is one of the
first, and not of the unfavorable, symptoms."

Treatment.--Give one pint of linseed-oil; clysters of soap and water
should be freely used; and give plenty of linseed-tea to drink. When the
urine is abundant, give one ounce of tincture of opium, with one drachm
of powdered aloes, three times, at intervals of six or eight hours.

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